The George Town Literary Festival 2011 - A Storybook Success


Notes from a small island
Muhammad Haji Salleh, the National Laureate, spoke at length on the linguistic peculiarities he found so interesting. “…English as a language is not so romantic, but more romantic than German! The Malay language ebbs and flows like the sea. Perhaps as a result of living by the sea.”

Unravelling the “photoshopped ideal” of the mainstream interpretation of Malaysian history, Farish Noor observed that history “needed to reflect honesty.” “It is a recurrent lament throughout South- East Asia that people don’t feel that they are reflected in the ‘national album’. Generations are asking ‘Where am I in national history?’” When asked about Penang’s “album” he compared it to Deep Purple’s second album. “…productive ambiguity, I hope there’ll never be a definitive album (for Penang). The moment that happens, there is a full stop!”

In November 2011, the weekend-long inaugural George Town Literary Festival got underway. It is indeed hard to believe that the 225-year-old city had never hosted a lit fest before.

Better late than never, no doubt, and the cosy festival with its mix of intellectual heavyweights and new authors was a well-organised, entertaining affair (I even bumped into an old friend based in Hong Kong, who had made the journey home just to attend the Festival).

Under the theme of “History & Heritage: where are our stories?”, the five authors – Farish Noor, Iskandar Al-Bakri, Muhammad Haji Salleh, Shih-Li Kow and Tan Twan Eng – read excerpts from their work before gamely tackling questions from the enthusiastic audience.

To read the rest of the article and to access our e-Archive, subscribe to us for RM150 a year.

Related Articles

Apr 2012

Hooking The Young on Heritage

How digital media can be used to demystify heritage.

Dec 2017

You Can Eat Healthy in Penang

Street food that is according to the doctor’s orders, perhaps?

Dec 2011

Don’t wait! Innovate NOW!

For social innovation to happen, it’s up to us to take responsibility.